Bulls, Bucks the best in weak Central
This quintet of ballclubs features one team on the rise, one team possessing big-time offense and small-time defense, along with three duds.
Derrick Rose is a sure-fire star-in-the-making — quick, strong, talented and motivated. A few tweaks in his perimeter jumpers, his defense and his decision-making in the paint and he should develop into a Kobe-LeBron type player. But he’s not there yet.
Tom Thibodeau’s defensive schemes necessarily revolve around Joakim Noah, a all-hustle-all-the-time guy. Noah can rebound with anybody and play exceptional team defense, all of which makes him one of the best young role players in the league.
Interior scoring will be the responsibility of Carlos Boozer, another sure-handed rebounder, but an atrocious defender. Unfortunately for the Bulls, he's out two months with a broken hand.
Luol Deng is an active baseline scorer. C.J. Watson can pressure the ball when his opponent has possession, but makes too many ill-advised decisions when the rock is in his hands. Kyle Korver is a one-trick pony who needs several screens to free up his jumpers. Taj Gibson is a valuable energy player. Keith Bogans is a 3-point shooter with defensive capabilities.
Given Boozer’s return to health, the Bulls will have sufficient offense to be troublesome, and to compete with Milwaukee for control of the division. But not even Thibodeau’s emphasis on defense will be enough to make then viable championship contenders.
For Detroit, it’s Destination Dullsville.
The key to their season is the health of Andrew Bogut. He’s smart, has adhesive hands, and has tricky moves in he pivot. However, his lateral movement is sluggish. Overall, Bogut is a solid second-tier big man.
Brandon Jennings is quick, but limited by his erratic jumpers, his inability to finish in a crowd, and his undeveloped defense. The young man is, at best, two years away from stardom.
John Salmons, Michael Redd and Corey Maggette have the same modus operandi — shoot first, never ask questions and play only token defense.
Ersan Ilyasova provides energy off the bench. Carlos Delfino is a slow-footed streak shooter. Drew Gooden is a solid third-tier big man.
This is a poorly balanced roster, top-heavy with gunners, and light on defenders. Given a career year by all concerned, they could conceivably catch the Bulls and roll over an inferior team to open the playoffs.